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I have been blessed with a loving sister. She cared for me and always treated me as “the special one”. I had special names for her and she had a special name for me. The two of us. Bliss. She used to play with me and make me my favorite food. Pour me a little drinkie when I needed it and dressed me in my best clothes for Sunday school. She taught me about love and caring. She loved me and looked after me. My sister… She was my angel. My special one.

And then I have this other sister. Man… You think Freddie Krueger was bad? He wakes up screaming from the bad nightmares she gave him. She used to ride the “mares” until they pass out at night. If she didn’t pass out from the alcohol consumption first. She was the kid you warn your kids about. And that you pray to God you never get. She was the kid that the bogeyman told his kids about to scare them. She was the kid that people refer to when they say “I heard this story about a kid…”. She was the reason why cats stayed indoors. She made grown men cry. She was the reason why social services was created… for parents. The Chucky movies was based her favorite toy. When people spoke about “those Fockers living down the road” they weren’t referring to a family by that name… She was the Nightmare on Our Street.

You might have seen a few comments from her over here. Just go check out anything by a certain person called Marlize in a few earlier stories. The last one – Fat Kids and Stupid Parents for instance. She made a few comments about the lovely food she used to lovingly make me. Yeah right… More like force feeding. She has the cooking skills that is equivalent to my dancing and singing skills. And you know how awesome that is. Actually, she does bake extremely excellent tarts. But then, she knows a lot about being a tart. Baking tarts is not that huge of a jump for her.

But let me tell you a few stories of my sister from hell. The kid the devil rejected as “just too much to handle”. And what I am about to write is 100% true. I kid you not.

Yes, she did make my food almost every day when I grew up. My mother and father worked so it was up to her to feed me. Feed me and food might be a bit of a stretch, but there isn’t words to say what she did and “cooked”. But let me rather say that she “made” my food and not made my food. I need the “made” to qualify her “cooking”. But wait, let me first tell you the story of me chasing her down the road with a fork…

She commented in the previous story that I chased her down the road because she made me fish fingers with syrup and cheese on it. That is a complete lie. I did not chase her down the road because she made me fish fingers with a syrup and cheese topping. Never did that. Complete bullshit.

I chased her down the road because she made me a Big Jack pie and stuck the bloody fork in it. And that was just the start of something bigger…

I had a choice of three dishes. Actually, it wasn’t a choice. She decided which of the three I would get. And these were my “choices” for most of my life until I managed to escape her claws. I could have a Big Jack pie with some All Gold tomato sauce (ketchup), fish-in-sauce or fish fingers with syrup and cheese on top.

Now Big Jack was (and I hope was and not is) a soggy and doughy pie from a box in the fridge that tasted like cardboard and never had anything inside no matter what the box said. I think the box might have tasted better if we only tried it once but my sister was too lazy to give me that. And the box most likely had a higher nutritional value as well. It was crap and my sister had a special way of making it taste even crappier. (Note to sister – Next time just follow the instructions on the box please.) I don’t think that the instructions said that is should be burnt on the outside and frozen in the middle…

Fish-in-sauce was even worse. It was a piece of “fish” (or fish by-products most likely) in a bag of sauce. Three flavors – green crap, yellow crap and brown crap. I liked the yellow crap the best. If you want to call it “like”. I have blocked most of the details from my memory and sitting here and just typing about it makes me break out in a cold sweat and the shivers. Let’s just leave it at the fact that it was pulled off the market and declared a WMD by Saddam himself. And yes, I do have a certain “glow” at night like one of those light sticks. You never recover completely from it and I still get my tetanus shots daily thanks to my one-time consumption of fish-in-sauce when I was a little boy.

And then there was the fish fingers. Another fish-like by-product. If you take an old fish head off the rubbish dump and cook it for a few hours and then leave it for a week to cool down in the African heat outside in the middle of summer… The stuff you can scrape off the top is what fish fingers are made of… Including the flies and other “additives”. My sister tried to hide the impact of the smell and taste by smothering it with Golden Syrup and grated nameless yellow cheese. The taste of that will stay with you forever… For-effing-ever I tell you. I can taste it now. Hali-bloody-tosis! (Gotta go brush my teeth quickly…)

So those were my choices…

And then we had the fork-down-the-road scene. My sister-from-hell made me a burnt-on-the-outside-frozen-inside Big Jack. Again. For the fourth day in a row. It might have been a chicken one. Or steak and kidney. I can’t remember. And you couldn’t taste the difference either. You only knew what you ate if you opened it up. Chicken was a gooey yellow with chunky dog meat inside and steak and kidney was a gooey brown ball of crap. It all tasted the same. And on this day she emptied the full bottle of tomato sauce on the pie-like lunch. And I just had it with crap food.

(The kids at school was laughing behind my back and pointing fingers at me because I always had to go to the bathroom and smelled a bit even though I bathed every time I brushed my teeth. About six times a day. You can never get that crap out of your system..)

So I said, “No more”. Actually, it could have been in Afrikaans and something like, “Jou moer“. Translated roughly into “F-you” or “your mother”. But the message was clear. I wasn’t going to eat it. And she said, “Yes you will”. And I said, “No I won’t”. And she said, “Yes, you will”. And I said, blah… blah… blah. This went on for about 60 or so exchanges. But I think the language might have been more colourful the longer we went on with this “argument”.

Then she stuck the fork in it. In my pie! Or whatever you called that thing on my plate.

And that was it!

I said, “Now I won’t eat this effing pie!” And she said, “Yes. You. Will!” And blah… blah… blah… I think we stopped when I got up and tried to escape… I mean run away. And she started chasing me around the kitchen table.

Picture the scene…

We had this big kitchen with this big table in the middle that could fit about eight people. Nice 70’s style yellowish top table. Formica or something. And matching chairs. And cupboards everywhere. On the open half-wall was a Japanese picture my mother liked. One of those that could roll up and had the doves on the lake scene. A narrow wooden-stripped roll-up painting. Hand painted. Remember that. Now back to the “chase scene”…

So I am running around this table trying to stay away from her slapping me on my head or something and she is chasing me all the way. But I was small and nimble. No way she was going to catch me because I could take the corners quicker. She can beat me in a straight run – being older – but no way could she catch me when there were turns and twists involved.

We did about twenty or thirty laps when she started to get tired. And thank God I noticed. I realized she was slowing down and turned to look at her on the other side… and ducked just in time. The pie was about an inch away from my face when instinct kicked in and I hit the floor. I looked at the pie going past me in Matrix style slow-motion and watched as it hit the Japanese painting. Right where the two doves where flying. They were fried. KFC thank you.

The pie just stayed there for a few second but it felt like minutes. And then it slowly started to slide down the painting and eventually hit the floor. Right next to me.

I stood up slowly and kept on staring at the picture with the pie marks. And then I heard a “whoosh” sound and felt a stinging pain in my left buttock. I turned around and saw the fork stuck in my backside! She threw the fork so hard it got stuck in my arse! WTF?

I was pissed.

I pulled out the fork and shouted, “Now you are going to get it. I’m going to effing &%^@# you to pieces!”… And I charged at her. Like the Light Brigade. No, I was a Zulu impi and I had my spear. I’m gonna get me some revenge on this colonialist tyrant. Charge! For country! For freedom! For liberty! Viva La France!

(Juluka playing in the background.)

She looked at me and realized she was in deep shit. Little baby brother is about to kick some ass. She turned and ran. Out the front door.

And I was right behind her screaming and shouting.

Down the road we went. She just laying it down flat as if she was running the 100 meters sprint like Flo-Jo in the ’88 Olympics. And I’m the mad man with the fork trying to get her. Eyes blazing, screaming that I was going to take her out this time. Man, we were crazy.

We must have run about 400 meters down the road when both of started realizing how stupid this was. What must the neighbors think? I am sure I saw a few people peeping through the curtains and calling their kids and dogs inside. Again. But we just kept on running. And then we started laughing.

It was stupid. But it was fun. We stopped and just laughed and laughed. Me and my stupid weird and crazy sister. Lying in the middle of the road and laughing our asses off.

That’s the story of the fork-in-the-road incident.

But let me just give you a few other stories of my sister from hell so you can get a clearer picture of her.

She is older than me by three years so she was already well known in high school when I entered the same high school. There I sat in my first class on my first day. I had no clue that she had a “bit of a reputation” at school. The teacher introduced himself and started asking each kid to give their name where they came from. No problem. I can do that. The teacher smiled and pointed to me when it was my turn. I was chuffed to stand up and announce my name with a big smile. The teacher’s face just dropped. He kept quite for a little while and then asked, “Say that again? Are you the brother of Marlize?” “Of course!” I said with an even bigger smile. They know my sister! Great! Right…

“Come with me young man”, said the teacher and turned around to go into his little backroom. I followed. A little puzzled, but maybe he was going to ask me to help him carry some pencils or books or something. I followed him into his little backroom and saw him standing there with a cane in his hand. He looked at me and said, “Bend down”. I lifted up my school blazer and did as he said. He caned me six shots on the arse.

Why? Let me quote you using his own words – translated. “Because your sister is Marlize and just in case you turn out to be anything like her. And for what you might get up to later today”.

WTF?

Yep, that’s what happened. I was a nerd in secondary school but got my first taste of corporal punishment on my first day in high school all thanks to nothing more than being the younger brother of Marlize. Thank you sis…

I quickly learned that she was a “special needs” kid at school. Every single class had a table and chair right next to the teacher’s table. Facing away from the other kids. That was her special table and chair. In every single class. So that she couldn’t disrupt the class too much. As if that helped. Just because she couldn’t face the other kids didn’t mean she couldn’t do anything. Those ink pots had a special meaning for her…

That’s how my time in high school went. I got canned often just because of my lovely sister. She was also the only girl I know of that got canned the way boys got canned at school. On the backside. And boy did she deserve it.

But she did teach me a thing or two. Like how to hang out the windows of the top floor to shout and wave at her when she was down in the courtyard doing PE. Or rather, skipping PE and having a skelm smoke instead. My teachers had a few heart attacks with that one but I trusted in the builders having done their job. And it was cool to hang out the window on a hot summer day and feel the wind blow through your hair. Three stories up…

She also taught me that throwing a handful of certain chemicals in the big fish tank outside the headmaster’s office will allow just enough time for you to go in, get your daily caning and “the speech”, walk out and then run when you hit the corner – just before the fish tank explodes. I bet that was what they used to make those fish fingers…

Oh, and because of the mess they never gave you a hiding for the fish tank on the same day. That had to wait until tomorrow…

She was horrid. My sister. No idea how she passed any of her exams. To say she scrapped through would be an overstatement. A string of DNA could not fit in between her scrapping through school year after year. I know the UN has been investigating just how the hell she managed to pass since 1982 and are no closer to getting an answer. It’s also what Stephen Hawking has been studying since he wrote A Brief History of Time. I think he based his black hole theories on some of her exam results.

And she could drink… At school. She used to skip classes and go to the bar down the road and ask for a shot of everything. No, I don’t mean a shot of brandy and a shot of whiskey and a shot of tequila. I mean a shot of every brand in the bar!

And she stole my dad’s cars a few times… To go for a spin. And a few drinks. He never noticed the dents and marks left on the car. She added them slowly. One at a time. Little by little. Until it looked like those old stock cars from 1980. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

And oh, my parents once decided to send her to boarding school. Yeah, like that worked out pretty well…

She got kicked out after 2 weeks. And she was home for the weekend that fell in between those 2 weeks! I still have no idea why she got kicked out so quickly. And I don’t think I will hear the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth from her either. Ha! My parents were so stupid that they gave her her yearly allowance for hostel as she started her first day there. She came back with… Nothing! She blew it! In two bloody weeks? I wonder if her getting kicked out and blowing her allowance had anything to do with each other? Mmm… Was there a bar close by?

Man…My sister. Here is another one.

You know the sign on the back window of the bus that says “Push out in case of emergency?” Guess what…

My dad got a call one day from the bus service complaining about my sister. Again. Why? Because she kicked out the back window. My dad just shook his head and asked in a faint little voice, “Why?” Her answer? “Because it was hot and for me that is an emergency.” She eventually wasn’t allowed on the bus either and my dad had to drive her to school each day. A 30 kilometre drive each and every day. Here is the clincher. My dad was the boss of the bus service in his role as head of the prison service where we lived. Yeah! She managed to get kicked out of something my dad was in charge of!

Or how about the time she kicked a hole in my room door because I didn’t want to let her in to beat me up?

Think of the worst thing you can think of for any kid to do just short of getting caught and going to jail. In her infinite wisdom my sister has done that and upped the ante to a level where you need bottled oxygen and a space suite just to breathe and survive the pressure. She lived in a rare space. A planet just for her. Population? One…

She made me take my first ever cigarette. I was six and she was nine. She was already a full time smoker. (Yes, you read right – 9!) And I caught her smoking with her friends in the park. What did I say? “I’m so gonna tell mom and dad!” Guess what she did?

She forced me to take one puff of a cigarette. One small little puff that made me puke my lungs out. I was still busy being sick all over the park and all I could hear was her laughing and shouting, “You can’t do anything now because I’ll tell mom and dad that you smoked as well!” Dammit. I was so stupid.

She used to rip me off as well. Trading my silver money for a gold money. She just polished her pieces of copper and “traded” it for my money that was “so worth so much less”. I could have been a millionaire by now if I didn’t trade my 50c for a 1c. Dammit. Again.

And she used to play “horsey” with me. Let me explain. She’ll come in and say, “Let’s play horsey. You are the horse and I am the cowboy. And then we’ll swap.” Guess what. We never swapped. I was always the horse and then she always had an excuse for why she could not be the horse. She fell off the horse and hurt her back. She had homework to do. Yeah right! I never got the chance to be the cowboy.

Or when we were on long trips and stuck in the back of the car. She used to tease me endlessly. She always told me that I was adopted and that my real name was Sareltjie Visser. Just a stupid common name in South Africa. And she would not stop until I cried and my parent threatened her with death.

My sister. Hell on two legs. There are so many stories I can tell you about her but some might still land her in jail. I know no one else who can touch what she has done and still remain more or less sane and stay out of jail. No one. Tell me your best story and I promise you I can tell you an even better one about my sister.

I promise you each and every single story is true. Not a single little detail is exaggerated. She was the worse of the worse. And she taught me everything I needed to know.

She taught me to always try things at least once. And never do it or taste it again if you don’t like it. I don’t like Brussels sprouts.

And she taught me the most important principle of them all…

Never back down. Never ever fucking back down. That’s what she taught me. To never back down when you know you are right. And to never back down when you see something is wrong.

Maybe that is why I am the Angry African. Still pissed after all these years.

I like my sister. She might have been a nightmare and the naughtiest kid to have walked this earth, but she is my sister. My effing crazy, mad, weird, delinquent and “special needs” sister called Marlize.

I love her very much. And I miss her very much.

She is special. She is crazy. She is full of shit. And she makes me laugh and love. She is my sister. And I couldn’t be happier.

Thanks sis. You have given me memories I will never forget. Even if I still wake up screaming at night. It was worth it. I love you.

Your proud brother who managed to survive your best shots.

Sareltjie Visser

 myfirstjointmr51

(Note: Sis, can you send a few tarts and some biltong this way? Oh, I mean the tarts you bake and not your friends…)

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Those REALLY regular and early readers might recall that I wrote a bit about the fat kids once – Let the fat kids play. I can hear the voices already…

“Oh come on! You can’t call the kids that! They are only kids. Shame, poor them.”

Tough. Fat became a swear word because of the pictures we see in the magazines telling us all that we would be so much better if we all look like Brad or Angelina. Or any of those thin chicks selling us the latest perfume or underwear. Okay, I don’t personally wear the underwear but… Anyway…

So tough. These kids are fat. Toughen up or shed some weight. Or just be happy with how you look. It could be worse. You could be too thin. Oh sorry, that doesn’t exist – according to the magazines that cover our delicate consciousness. But being fat is a problem.

Now we call it a “disease”. The obesity “disease”. Crap people. It isn’t a disease. HIV/Aids is a disease. Eating too much crap isn’t a disease. It’s just eating too much crap.

I know, I know. There are a few people that gain weight because of a hormone imbalance or some serious medical issue. But really… Most cases of “big boned” people are due to an imbalance between the ears. Don’t try to pull that crap on me. I am not thin. Maybe “slightly” over my ideal Barack Obama weight. But I’m still closer to Obama than Rush Limbaugh. In so many ways. I don’t eat too much crap and I don’t talk too much crap. (Stop laughing.) I know my excuse – I’m not fat, I’m just lazy. What’s your excuse?

Crap stays crap. Just don’t believe your own lies or that doctor that feeds you crap stories. Your own crappola of excuses. “Obesity is a disease.” Puh-leeze…

Who told you to stuff your face with that Big Mac or KFC Extra Crispy or donut from Dunkin’s? You ate it. Now live with it. Stop bitching. Stop telling me to not make it sound so awful. It is awful – live with it or stop it. Sorry, you won’t find any sympathy here.

You want to take McDonald’s to court? Sue Burger King for their jewels? Did they force it down your throat? Oh… They didn’t warn you about how bad it is… WTF? Are you stupid?

Stuffing your face with too much food is bad. Stuffing your face with too much crap food is even worse. It is NOT rocket science…

I know, it isn’t really the kids fault. But it sure as hell isn’t the fault of the crap-making fast food joints. Ronald doesn’t sit next to you and force the last morsel of a Big Mac down you throat. And neither did the government. So who should be “blamed”?

Hellooooo… Parents!

Or maybe I shouldn’t call you that. You aren’t parents. You are household engineers. Parenting isn’t good enough anymore. Actually, you are right. You can’t be called parents – because you are not parents. And you haven’t been parents since you had that kid in the first place.

Parenting means you have a kid (or kids) and that you are responsible for them and for how they grow up. Not someone else. Not your mom. Or uncle George the President. Or Ms Burns at the school. It’s YOU.

How can you feed your kids crap and call yourself parents? Here is a hot dog for dinner darling. And a nice oily pizza tomorrow night. How about a nice Mac ‘n Cheese from the box on Saturday? Sunday is so special when we all go to T.G.I Friday’s and eat a plate of more crap. Just after we’ve been to The Cheesecake Factory for breakfast. Don’t forget to go all “healthy” when you gulp down the Diet Pepsi to go with you thick slice of cheesecake – extra cream please. Crap parents feed kids crap food 24/7.

Crap, crap, crap.

That’s what we feed our kids and how we act as parents.

Let me brag for a minute…

Many moons ago we took our youngest daughter to Wendy’s. We were driving up in New Hampshire and decided to stop for a quick bite on our way back. It was going to be our first time at Wendy’s. The youngest one was so excited. Wendy’s! Yeah! She loved the ad with the guy and the weird hair. It must be good! She ordered her burger and fries. Big eyes and all excited – jumping up and down. “I’m gonna have a Wendy’s!” And then the food came…

“Where’s my broccolili?” What she calls broccoli. That was her first question. She didn’t touch the burger because she thought it was crap. Hum… Not her exact words but you get my drift. We haven’t been back since. She doesn’t like crap. And she doesn’t take crap. She’s an African all right.

Six days a week she gets a proper meal at dinner that includes at least two vegetables. And she LOVES broccoli. And peas. And carrots. And she eats a good breakfast. And most of the time she gets food made and packed by my lovely wife for her school lunch and snack. Yes. Home made stuff. I know… It is way out there in crunchy-hippie world for most people…

Once a week we eat crap. A pizza on a Saturday or some burgers. Guess what? Most of the time we make those hamburgers or pizzas ourselves. Hand-made patties and dough. And they help me make the food when I cook crap. It’s part of the fun. And it tastes better than the crap from the joint down the road. Oh, did I mention we spend time together doing this?

Sometimes we order out or we eat out. It is seen as a “treat” when things are crazy otherwise. Maybe Olive Garden or Uno’s where the girls can still make their own pizza. Whatever. It’s a break and not the norm.

And our kids eat what we eat.

We cook dinner for all of us and eat together – all of us. It is the highlight of my day. I get home and we sit together as a family and talk crap instead of eat crap, drive my lovely suffering wife crazy and eat our food. Together. A family. You give our kids the option of eating in front of the telly or at the table together and they choose…. The table! Even when we parents want to sit back and veg in front of the idiot-box and eat our food from a tray… They don’t want that. They insist we sit together as a family around the table. Ha! I am more popular than Spongebob Squarepants! And they are only 5 and 11… Teaching us about parenting.

And we all eat the same food.

How can parents make different food for the kids? You should eat a proper meal if you are old enough to talk. Not some crappy hot dog or a mac ‘n cheese. You are feeding them crap and then you wonder why they get fat or get sick easily. Or do you eat crap to start off with? Why all this crap?

Because it is crap! The food and you!

I am no model parent but this I know. My kids eat healthy food and enjoy eating healthy food because that is what we all eat together as a family. They make a link between broccolili and dad and mom sitting with them around the table and eating – and having fun as a family together. They see good food and think of good times. They compliment their mother (and sometimes me) on the food they have every night without anyone asking. Why? Because they actually like the food!

We already joke when the little one asks, “What are we having for dinner mom?” And you can say anything – chicken with carrots and honey, tomato bredie (stew), goggas (spaghetti bolognese) or whatever. She’ll always have the same reply… “I looove tomato bredie” Or whatever we are having.

They eat crap as well. They are kids. But we know what they need daily to keep them healthy and keep us being healthy parents.

Feed your kids crap and be surprised that they get called “fatty” at school? Who is the stupid one now?

Don’t even get me started on education. Everyone wants education to improve. A better school. A better chance for their kids. “Just get my kid a good school and education. You know a chance to make it in this world.”

Okay, but how about parenting. How about you starting to become a parent? Too many parents see the school taking over the role of the parents. Your responsibility towards your kids does not stop when the kid goes off to school. Being a parent isn’t something you hand over. You take responsibility of that. Sort your parenting out before you start bitching about education. Guess what… Education today is better than what it was 100 years ago – Parenting not.

Do you read to your kid at night? Do you help with the homework instead of ignoring them or (even worse) doing their homework with them? Do you take time to be interested in showing them the wonders of snow? Or point at the stars and the full moon? Maybe hunt for treasure in the forest or park? Turn over stones to see what is hiding? Or ask them what they’ve done at school? Or little things like coloring in with them? Or do you spend your time with them creating more crap?

Crap food. Crap education. It starts where? You guessed it…

All this crap starts with… Parenting.

Parents eat crap. Parents watch crap. Parents learn nothing. Parents do nothing. And the kids follow them down to the gallows.

Fat kids and stupid parents. They go hand in hand.

babyhands

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My “liberal” credentials might take a bit of a beating here. But, what the hell, I am African… I can’t pull punches just to make people feel better about themselves. I have some beef with what we eat…

You know I don’t like Palin. She an empty head with lots of background noise. I’m not even going to go into that. Just have a look at a few of the things I’ve written about her to know I am not a fan. See the letter I wrote to Sarah, or how six degrees of separation makes her anti-American and not a maverick, or what I want in a Vice President. Oh, there are many more. But those will give you a sense of my dislike of the lipstick pig.

And here I am defending her. Dammit. I thought about it for a while… But I know I have to. It’s about meat you see. And I am a meatarian. Ooh… Not everyone likes that part of me. Mmm. A few nice tjops and a boerewors on the open fire… Mouth watering sh*t I tell you. Anyway. Go have a look at my views on eating meat. Unpopular? Maybe. Do I care? Hum… Sorry… Was that a question? I eat meat. Live with it.

What am I talking about? I am talking about the “turkey incident”. You know, the one with Sarah “Empty Head” Palin talking to the media while a guy is busy cutting the throat of a turkey in the background to drain the blood. And of course, kill the bird. Here is a link to that just in case you haven’t seen it yet. Do what I did… Turn off the sound and just watch the guy in the background. I really have no reason to hear her voice. She sounds just like a bunch of turkeys in any case. And about as predictable. Have you ever stood with a bunch of turkeys and made the turkey “kulu-kulu-kulu” sound? Yep, they all react the same way by singing it all back to you in unison. Just like Sarah and her gang of bigots. You push the button and she’ll sing it back… So predictable. Anyway… Here is the video.

It was all over the news. People were up in arms about her being so stupid to stand in front of the cameras while the guy is killing the bird in the background. How could she? Is she that stupid? Hum… Yes, this “bird” is that stupid but it has nothing to do with the bird in the background. I really don’t get what the fuss was about?

Are you shocked about the killing of the bird? WTF? How did you think that turkey got on your plate over Thanksgiving? Do you think they were massaged till they died a peaceful death? Or that they died of some natural cause?

Yep. They did die of a natural cause. Natural for a turkey in any case. They got slaughtered. And nicely packaged for your convenience. Ready to place your order for a 16 pound turkey and pick it up at Roche Brothers the day before Thanksgiving. And then you stick it in the oven for a few hours and… Wallah! Turkey time!

(Oh, we had a chicken on steroids for Thanksgiving. Eight pounds – the smallest one you could order. Hey, the butcher frowned at our un-American size turkey – even after we explained we are four very normal size people. Two kids and two grown ups. But that maple syrup did the trick. Nice and juicy! Thanks babe.)

Back to reality… The meat you eat were once little calves and chicks and little piggies and little baa baa white sheep. Yes, they were cute once. But now they are dinner. Or maybe just mashed up into a burger or something. Get used to it. The things we call meat were once alive. Now they are nicely done (medium rare as the chef said) and on our dinner plates. Live with it.

More importantly, own it.

I find it amazing that people were shocked at the video. I just can’t understand how people can think that food comes nicely packaged without any consequences. Meat doesn’t grow on trees. Their natural state isn’t wrapped in plastic and in cold storage. They don’t grow up from little 1 ounce steaks into the half-pounder you slap on the grill.

I don’t have a problem with what I eat. I slaughtered a few sheep in my time. And cattle for that matter. Plucked a few chickens. Even helped a turkey or two from their kulu-kulu state into my plate. That’s life. I am from Africa and had to go to the farm when there was a break from school. I’m glad I did it.

And I am happy that I slaughtered the sheep and cows and chickens and rabbits and deer or whatever else came my way from the farm or when we went hunting. We ate what we killed. It wasn’t for fun. It was for food and to control the numbers. Too many wild animals and the semi-desert area would turn into a desert area if we didn’t cull the animals and control the numbers. Like I said, it wasn’t for fun.

But I am still glad I knew what I ate. And I am glad that I could take ownership of what I ate. From the farm to my plate. I knew the animals and knew what they were for. We always looked after them and fed them. Gave them space to live and kept them healthy. But they weren’t there to be played with. We respected them and treated them well. And then we will slaughter them in the best and quickets way we can. Always with respect and acknowledgement that we owe them as much as what we own them. Because we knew that in the end we will eat them. And live.

My only problem now is that I don’t know where my meat comes from. I know about the force-feeding of turkeys and the steroids for juicy steaks and the transporting of sheep. I don’t like it. I don’t. But I have to make a choice. I either eat it and know what might have happened along the way or I should shut the f*ck up and go eat some celery.

Oh I try to be organic when I can afford it and when I can get it. I make sure I have as much information as possible. But I am not going to live in the clouds and think that there are no consequences. I know that there are some major sh*t going on in the US when it comes to the stuff they call meat. Those large commercial farms are not a pretty sight. But that happens when you want your steaks and you want your burgers. It’s as horrid as you can imagine and then some. Sh*t happens when we want to eat meat.

Know what you eat. Live with it. Don’t try and think you are all “eco-activist” by getting worked up about the turkey getting slaughtered. Those horrid pictures… That’s life. That’s how you get your food. Know it. Live with it. And then eat it.

I do. I’m not going to bullsh*t myself. I might be a disgusting bastard and barbaric African for eating meat, but I am not going to be a hypocrite. I know it. I live with it. And I eat it.

Don’t think your all organic green salad is that much better. Farming soya is killing the Amazon forest. And it tastes like crap. (No thanks, I’ve tried it many, many times in different ways. It always tastes shite.) What makes a plant so much worse than a cow? Just because it doesn’t have whiskers and a heartbeat?

It’s so stupid. People trying to humanize the animals we eat. Cows with glasses on? Yeah, it is funny… But it is also a piece of steak away from being on my plate. Chicken Little? Wait till he grows up. Babe? Mmm, wonder what the farmer did with him when he got old? Sorry, these animals don’t live the lives we are told on the telly or read in those nice bedtime stories. Those are stories, not life. I laugh at the stories of animals done so beautifully by Pixar and the Disney gang and I love Back To The Barnyard. But I also know that calling the main cow Otis doesn’t mean he won’t be eaten when the time comes.

You like cats or dogs? Guess what… The stuff you feed them? Used to be the crap left over after they cut the choice meat for us. Or the fish heads left over after we got our frozen bits cut into nice cubes. We eat meat. Or some of us do. And we should know what we eat and not be disgusted by how we get it. That is bigotry. Or at least hypocritical.

Thank God we don’t hear the broccoli scream as you snap the stem, dry freeze it before it is stuffed in a plastic bag and then dropped in boiled water or nuked by the microwave. Oh, those poor, poor broccoli. And the cute little peas. What did they ever do to you? Or do you wait for the carrot to die a natural death?

No. I am not going to eat roadkill. I know what I eat. Or at least as much as what I can know. I am not going to flinch when I see a picture of a dead animal getting slaughtered and packaged. I am going to look at it and then slap it on the grill.

I know it. I see it. I own it. I live with it. And I eat it.

Do you?

meat

Back from Bucks County. And back with some views on the news. It’s been a weak of news. Backward news. Let’s have a look, shall we?

1. Can’t take my eyes off of you

Poor old man McCain. He just can’t get any attention. It seems as if people, and especially the media, thinks he might be a bit boring. Big yawn. Big surprise. The most exiting thing that happens to him is when the comb-over flaps in the wind or when he puts in his teeth in the morning. Anyway… So McShame decided to show the world, or at least his closet closest friends, how unfair this all is to a senior citizen like himself. And decided to show it in a way that is a bit more hip. You know. To get with this “internets” thingy. Made up a nice clip (two actually) and posted it on YouTube. Showing to the world how unfair the media can be. Nice one. You really showed your age with this one. Or maybe not. My 4-year old won’t even do this. It is way below her standards. She is too grown up for it I guess. But then, she isn’t a Republican politician either. But then he pulled it off the site again! No, it wasn’t the early signs of ADD. Or flip-flopping. I was hoping it was his promise to “fight a good clean fight that will stay on the moral high ground”. Nope, that wasn’t it. He is already playing with the pigs. Remember the Bush man-love hug? Anyway… He pulled it because it was way to popular. And maybe illegal. Yep, the only way he could get any attention was by showing pictures and videos of Obama. Go figure. And then? He had to pull it because one of the songs they used, Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You, might have a licencing issue… Yep, the more popular the clip the more they have to pay. A bit like oil prices I guess. And now McPain realizes he will have to pay up if he wants to be watched – or at least watch Obama being watched. Hah! Dig a hole for yourself Mac. Come on. Pick the nearest forest and start digging. Or offshore. You might just find enough oil to pay for using that song. Hope it is legal. The song. And the digging. He is going to be really pissed when he hears the European Commission just extended copyright for songs to 95 years. Even he can’t outlive that.

The Obama camps denied reports that they are currently looking at posting two clips of McCain on their YouTube channel. One showing him crying in the rain to “Wish You Were Here” (Pink Floyd) and another of him throwing a hissy fit to “She Thinks His Name Was John” (Reba McEntire).

I love you so much Big Fella

I love you so much Big Fella

2. McCain knows no shame – dissing the troops

I think that McCain is becoming desperate. Really desperate. He is now willing to shred the last pieces of decency he had. I don’t know if he is losing his mind or whether he lost it months ago already. But the last inch of respect he had is being lost at a rapid pace. Why? Because he is starting to disrespect the troops. It’s fine to throw cheap shots at Obama. That’s politics the Republican way. Cheap. Shots. But playing with the troops is another thing. Using them and abusing them for cheap shots is just… hum… you know… not on. Obama decided not to visit a military hospital in Germany because the Pentagon thought that it might be inappropriate as it might be seen as playing politics. Fair call. So Obama did the right thing. Pull out of the visit. This showed his respect for the troops. Not willing to let them be pulled into politics. Good on you Obama. And then McShame decided to open his stupid mouth again. Calling Obama out for not visiting the troops. He hinted that Obama isn’t showing enough respect for the injured troops. WTF? Are you for real? You want to show some respect for the troops? Shut your mouth when it comes to the military and get the troops out of this stupid war of yours. The troops should be supported. Not your stupid mindless war. You were in the military. But not anymore. It doesn’t give you a free pass when it comes to the lives of Americans. Troops or not. Show some respect.

Oh, and while we are on the war thing. That new ad of yours where you climb into Obama for not being in Iraq often enough. Here is a wake-up call for you. You don’t need to be in Iraq to know that war was the wrong decision. Maybe even illegal. A bad decision based on bad intel. The War on Error. And not one single person who supported that decision to invade is saying they are sorry. No, they are trying to say that it is “working”. Working! Bah! Maybe our definitions of working differ slightly. Working like a bloody band aid on a broken back yes. It was wrong to go into war with Iraq and that doesn’t change no matter how many times you visit.

And Afghanistan? Go read up a bit more. Not only are we losing the War on Terror there, but also the War on Drugs. The poppy’s are blooming. We are losing the war over there because the military is stretched to the extreme. Hope it doesn’t snap. So what do you do? Move the pieces around. Troops out of Iraq and into Afghanistan. There is an old South African saying, “Slim vang sy baas.” The bright one catches his master. It means that eventually all you decision will backfire if they are wrong. And you just keep on sticking to those wrong ones baby. So, ¡Ya basta! Stop your whining and start showing some respect for those troops who are fighting your stupid war. Don’t play with them just to try and become President. It’s not on. So get off.

3. Please Mr President, just shut up

Look, it takes a damn lot to make President Bush look sharp and full of wisdom, but President Mbeki isn’t going to give up trying. At least President Bush is doing little to make things worse during the last few days of his reign. No wait. The war is still on, the economy is tanking, he wants to drill for oil no matter what or where, and he is still playing chicken with Iran, North Korea and whoever else said no to the dinner date. Okay… He can do way more damage, but so can Mbeki. Here is a man I used to support and defend. And then he lost me at… hello? Anybody there? First he made a joke of science with his Aids policies. Then he danced on the graves of human rights and logic with his “quiet diplomacy” approach to Mad Uncle Robert Mugabe over there in Zim. Both of these decisions took a special kind of leadership. Special needs more like it. It refined decision-making. Redefined stupidity in leadership. But just when you thought it can’t get any worse… He goes on to say that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir should not be prosecuted for war crimes. WTF? (Second one for today.) Come again? The reason? Because it will mess up the peace process. You know, you can’t talk peace with a guy who is in court at the same time. Now hang on in there El Presidente Mbeki. That logic doesn’t work. Say someone breaks into my house and steals everything. Now you are arguing that we can’t charge the guy because it might hinder his rehabilitation. No, no! No, baby, no. You don’t negotiate with someone while they are bus murdering and killing the innocent. You charge them and let justice takes its course. Please President Mbeki. Show some backbone. Stop making President Bush look good. I really don’t need that right now.

4. Not Mama’s Apple Pie

So you are just sitting there having a nice piece of apple pie. As American as can be. Spoiling yourself. At Maccie D’s. And you take a deep bite. You can feel the apple pie squirm against your braces. And then… Wait! I don’t wear braces! What the hell is this piece of metal doing in my apple pie? Screw them. Metal screw in the apple pie. That’s what happened to this poor woman. But that’s not the news. Bad food at McDonald’s? What’s new. No – the real news is further down the article…

“Her nephew had also eaten an apple pie, but there were no foreign objects in his dessert.”

Haha! Come on! You ate an apple pie at Maccie D’s. Of course there were foreign objects in your dessert. It just wasn’t metal.

While we are on the fast food topic. I see The Governator Schwarzenegger banned trans fats in restaurants. Good. Right? One thing has always bugged me about banning trans fats at fast food joints. Do you really think of any health issues when you go buy a donut from Dunkin’ Donuts? Do you stop for a minute and think, “I wonder how many calories in this Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese?” I don’t. I know it is bad. I think everyone knows that eating crap food is bad for you. This trans fat debate is a bit too nanny state to me. Too English. Not American. Eat crap and die.

5. Stop Press! Money to Democrats!

Those slightly crazy right wingers at NewsBusters and American Thinker really got their backs up this week. Because they just “proved” that the media is biased. You see, the media is giving more money to Democrats than to Republicans. And about 235 journalists gave money to the Democrats compared to 20 to Republicans. And who said the media is stupid? It isn’t a lot of money. About $225,000 compared to $16,000. But still. Why are they doing it? NewsBusters and the stupidity gang argues that the media is biased. But even Fox gave to the Democrats and not to the Republicans. So that can’t be right. I mean NewsBusters and American Drinker Thinker adore and pray at the feet of Fox. So what’s the reason then? I have an alternative theory. The media is giving money to the Democrats because they are sick and tired of getting screwed for nothing by Bush and the Repugnants Republicans. They are arguing that if they are going to get screwed they might just pay for the more entertaining lot. And better looking as well. I mean really. You don’t know where those Republicans have been before. Apart from airport toilets that is. Also, you pay for something that is worthwhile. Will you pay to watch a re-run of Gigli or the Adventures of Pluto Nash? You know what the Republicans are all about. Been there and done that. No reason to pay for it and see it again. It was aweful the last time around and you know it won’t be better the next time either. Not when you have the real blockbuster coming right up – the Democrats are the movie for next summer. You don’t know if it will be any good, but you know it will be a damn lot better than the bad show of last years and yesterday. No it isn’t the media being biased. It’s the media deciding that it is better to pay for hope than get screwed for nothing by dope.

___________________________________

See ya’ll later.

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I am back. And what a ride it was. So much to say. I don’t even know where to start. 2 days in Shanghai and 4 days in Beijing. And so different from what I expected. I should have known better. Much better. The world isn’t black and white. And neither is China. But let’s start with the heading of this blog…

Please Mr China. Please unblock my blog. Yep. My blog isn’t for public consumption in China. For some or other reason you just can’t open it over there. Blocked. I hope it was just my computer. And the computer of the few people who tried to read my blog. But it seems as if the Chinese government decided that it is better that my blog be blocked in China. Come on. It isn’t that much of a blog. Pretty middle of the road if you ask me. Just a few questions and observations on life, love and the universe. No need to block it.

Okay, so I wrote a piece or two on China. And maybe they were slightly critical. Okay, maybe more than just slightly critical. Comparing China to Zimbabwe might have been over the top. At least from an Olympic perspective. And maybe I shouldn’t be so critical of tyrants and other non-democrats when I created an Oh-Limp-Pic Games to celebrate tyrants everywhere. Maybe it just wasn’t fair. But hey, life isn’t fair. Live with it.

So please unblock my blog.

Also. I have some good news to tell about China. My week there has been awesome. What an eye opener. So many stories to tell. So many things observed. Too many surprises I never expected. But let’s start with why I was there in the first place.

It was all about disasters. And specifically because of the earthquake that hit the Sichuan province in China on May 12 of this year. So far almost 70,000 lives have been taken by the disaster. And they expect it to rise to at least 80,000 by the time they close this chapter. I was asked by the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs and other partners (let’s not name any names) to speak at two conferences and chair two sessions on how to prepare for disasters and how to develop effective public-private partnerships. One was held in Shanghai and one was held in Beijing. Yes, the Angry African was invited to go there. But under my real name.

I won’t bore you with the details of the conferences and meetings. It was amazing. But I am sure you don’t come here to read about that. Let’s just say that they are way better prepared for disasters than I expected. And way better organized than what I have seen elsewhere in the world. I think I learned more from them than they from me.

Let’s also say that I really did not want to go. I tried everything to get out of it. Delayed my travel plans. Moaned and groaned. Bitched and threw my toys. I just don’t like flying anymore. I am not scared of flying. It’s just boring. I would rather spend time with my wife and kids. They are the most important things in my life and I would rather be with them 24/7. But, alas, I got the visa the day before I had to fly off so I ran out of excuses. And there I went. Flying off to China.

It didn’t start off that well though. I had to fly American Airlines. You know, I have flown some weird and wonderful airlines in my life. It comes with having flown maybe 1,000+ times in my life. I mean really, I have flown Air Cameroon and made it to my destination. Eventually. So American Airlines should be a breeze, right? Nah. They are by far the worse airline I have ever flown. Crappy planes. Crappy food. And just… crappy. I mean really. Why the hell do they block off the aisle and window seats right until they are about to take off? It meant that I had to take a middle seat because I had to fly via Chicago and couldn’t change my seat at either Logan (Boston) or even online. Jeez. So backwards. Even Air California (Mexico) had a better system in place.

And, of course, I had to be squashed seated next to a guy with the worse breath I have ever (EVER) had the pleasure to smell. Not that I wanted to smell it, but he fell asleep with his head almost on my shoulder, mouth gaping wide open and snoring away. And breathing on me. I can’t even explain how bad it was. Let’s just say that I have seen grown men cry when facing this. It is even banned in Guantanamo Bay because they believe that this kind of torture would be crossing that invisible (but smelly) line. I had to go to the toilets a few times just to get fresh air. It was not a pretty sight or smell.

And the food was crap. Of course. Imagine Chinese food made by a pissed of dude in downtown Philly. Well, I would love to have his version rather than what they gave me on the plane. Cold noodles. And warm water. And a soggy bun with plastic ham and a year-old lettuce. Let’s just say that they did not impress me with their culinary skills. I am sure the guy with the stinky breath flies American Airlines all the time or might be their official food taster.

And the “in-flight entertainment”. Mm. What entertainment. Movies and programmes to fit in with their food service I guess. College Road Trip was never funny. And neither is Definitely, Maybe. It’s not even that romantic. And Spiderwick Chroniclesis really not my cup of tea. And the music and television offered nothing better. Sad old programs to fit in with the sad old plane. My general feeling about their in-flight entertainment? Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn… I had my iPod and a few books. The books also helped block off Mr Smelly Breath.

So I wasn’t a happy camper. I didn’t want to go to China. And I didn’t want to sit in the crappy plane. But here I was. Stuck on the plane and hurtling towards Shanghai. Man. I was not into this at all.

But what a surprise when I landed. China made my crappy flight worthwhile. And that is a whole new story.

————————–

Tomorrow: To China (with love) II: Man, the Chinese are funny

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Here we go again…

1. The world growing bigger?

The only problem is that not everything else is expanding with it. I know it is disturbing. But don’t worry. We are. Humans. And other planets. And animals. At least until we slaughter them and turn them into burgers and steaks. Even our measurements are expanding. And no, I don’t mean our waistlines. Okay. Not only our waistlines. Also our waste-lines. No idea what that means, but it sounded good when I wrote it. Anyway… I thought the world must be growing while our food and drinks stay the same size. Why? Because everything is getting smaller. Bought a salad the other day and realized that it is smaller than what I remembered from the last time I bought a salad. But then I had a closer look. Damnit. Can you believe it. Even salads are being reduced in size. No – not because of obesity. Rather because of profits. With “raw” materials and overheads going up they had to cut cost somewhere. Why not start with the portions they sell? No problem. Right? Well, I don’t have a problem with it. But it would have been nice of them to tell me. I felt a bit cheated. Dirty. And looking at the smaller packet made me feel all grown up and bigger than what I feel really comfortable with. I felt a bit like Alice for a minute. But, as you might know, I am not a big salad eater. So it didn’t faze me. But I lost it when I realized that they are doing it to beer! Bloody hell people! That’s a line you should never, ever cross. Do what you want with us, but leave our beer alone. You thought President Bush got all pissed at Iraq trying to kill his daddy. Don’t mess with an African and his beer. But they did. Selling us 14 ounce beers but passing it off as a 16 ounce beer! Sacrilege! But the trend continues. Cars are getting smaller. Which is a good thing. My ego can fit into a Mini. But those guys with the big trucks and girls with the big SUV’s. Not sure if their ego can fit into a Ford Focus. I mean really, they only just manage to squeeze into a Hummer. Yeah. The world is shrinking. No, you aren’t getting fat. It’s the clothes shrinking… We’ll all look like Lance Armstrong soon. Tights everywhere. Okay, maybe with two… hum… you know. Oh, I was lying about the salad. It is shrinking, but I am African. We don’t do salad. A good salad is anything not meaty – like chicken.

2. Getting ready to be arrested

I am off to China this weekend. But I’ll tell you about that later. Once I am back. Still waiting for my visa, but hopefully that will be sorted today. There is a reason why I use the name Angry African you know… Anyway. I have been talking to my IT guy about staying connected while I am over there. Apparently it won’t be a good idea to blog from there. Not only do they sometimes “relieve” you of the burden carrying your laptop around, but don’t like bloggers speaking out that much. Not much at all. You see, China, Burma, Iran and Egypt heads the list of countries arresting people because they blog about their political views. I am safe then I guess. I don’t do political views… What I write is nothing but an impartial view of the world and what is happening around us. So I should be safe. But many bloggers are not. 334 got arrested in Burma alone. But thanks to their “somewhat” restrictive government, these could not be verified. When you drop of the face of the earth… 

3. No workers, no problem

Biofuels are held up as either the answer to all our problems or the next disaster to hit us. I don’t have much of a view on this one. I think biofuels could be part of the solution (not the solution), but the current approach sucks. Using corn and sugar just don’t make sense. it pushes food prices right up and we cut down forests meant to protect us from emissions. Sounds like stupid economics to me. And Brazil has a huge problem. They are cutting down the Amazon rainforest faster than you can say “Hummer”. I mean really. 1,123 square kilometers were cut down in April alone… So Unica, the Brazilian ethanol lobby decided to go on the charm offensive. They invited a few journalist around to show them all the good stuff they are doing. Apart from the cutting down of trees that they forgot to mention, most of their ideas are just fine. Like going all mechanical in the cutting of the cane. Less pollution because they don’t have to burn them anymore. But there was something else that caught my eye. The reporter only mentions it as a “by the way”. But it struck me that Unico might still need some more PR training. Unico said that companies are going all mechanical on us because it addresses two challenges. One, the pollution. Check. Secondly, it will get rid of the cane-cutters and therefore also get rid of any labor problems and labor critics. Hum. Maybe you shouldn’t have mentioned that one. Keep spinning the “we chop down trees to be green” line. It’s not only more believable, it also makes the “little people” go away.

4. The two stooges

Tweedledum and Tweedledee are meeting as we speak. I mean Mbeki and Mugabe are meeting. In Zimbabwe. Not sure why. Maybe to discuss the weather. Or the latest fashion. Or what curtains to pick for their new houses. Or fining new and more spouses. Bloody idiots. Look. I have supported Mbeki through thick and thin. Defended him wherever I could. I even defended his initial position on HIV/Aids in South Africa. And justified his initial approach to the Zimbabwean crisis. But it has gone too far. People are dying in South Africa because of his idiotic HIV/Aids policies and lack of action. And people are dying in Zimbabwe because of a tyrant that has gone bonkers. Mbeki and his “quiet diplomacy” just sounds like “staying quiet”. Sorry you two idiots. Time’s up. You are not welcome anymore. Just take your stuff and go sit in the corner. And be quiet. We have a name for people like you. It starts with an “m”. “Moer-something” in Afrikaans and “Mother-something” in English. Just go. Don’t hang your curtains. Hang your heads in shame. Or just hang your heads.

5. McCain inspiring old white men in Europe

I don’t think so. Okay, maybe he does if you include the arms dealers. But other than that, McCain inspires people outside the US about as much as Osama Bin Laden inspires tolerance. yes, there might be one or two out there who would fall for them. But they are loonies and at the fringe. But Obama. Now that is another story. He isn’t even President (yet) and he is already inspiring people across the world. telling them to break out of their racial stereotype and that anything is possible. That you can do it – no matter where you come from. France is going through some tough times right now. Race is at the forefront of so many debates. And they have violence on the streets of Paris. Because people feel hopeless. That in the land of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité. Well educated blacks have to compete with 15-year old white kids for a job at McDonald’s. Nothing wrong with working at McDonald’s. But when the color of your skin stoops you from aiming higher, then you have a problem. But all of a sudden Obama is making people talk about race in France. And what it means. And how it can be overcome. And how it can inspire people to continue to fight the good fight for equality. Real equality. Not just a French word. That is inspiring. That is Obama. McSame? Well, apparently the old people in France likes his comb-over. It is so provincial.

See ya later.

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I have these pictures in my head. Pictures of people and places I have seen. It’s my memories in colour. I wish I had them in little picture boxes to share. But I don’t. I just have these pictures in my head.

Pictures of the Pink Market in Bamako, Mali. The sea of colour spread as far as the eye can see. Clothes and textiles hanging from every stall, tent and shop. Shirts of gold, blue, white – all shades and colours, more than the rainbow can give. Shirts and tunics and dresses hanging everywhere. And the women in their bright clothes and big smiles. Mulling around and laughing and talking. Neighbours during the day and friends at night.

Pictures of Soweto Market in Lusaka. Taxi’s everywhere. The minibus taxi’s. Blue and yellow or whatever spraypaint they could get their hands on. The backyard mechanics working at the stop street. Welding “new” exhaust pipes on cars still idling. And the tables with their variety of goods spread out. Fresh fruits and vegetables – oranges, carrots, potatoes, apples and everything you would want. And don’t forget the nsima and stewed beef. Or the dried Mopani worms ready for a salad – like croutons. And the men sitting in the alley’s drinking beer and talking soccer. Pictures of life and living.

Pictures of the arts and craft sellers on the side of the road on the way to Masvingo in Zimbabwe. Two or three soccer fields big. Sellers and artists a meter or two apart. Row upon row. With a government agent standing out acting as a seller. But the suit and the sunglasses give them away. They’ve  watched too many Western spy movies. But the artists sit there with a dusty backdrop and the beautiful Zimbabwe hills scattered around them. And their art. Art of wooden carved heads, soapstone mother-and-child abstracts, traditional clothes and much, much more. Just more and more – row upon row. Fields of art. And fields of people.

So many pictures. The flower sellers in Cape Town with their wide smiles and Table Mountain backdrop. Fisherman in Hout Bay coming in with their catch. Rows and rows of construction and more construction in Abuja, Nigeria. Carpets of trees as far as the eye can see when flying over the Cameroon jungle. The Danube with the spectacular Buda Castle as a backdrop in Budapest, Hungary. Lake Geneva from the window of a train. The Sun and Moon Pyramids in Mexico standing tall with cities of ancient civilizations scattered around and underground. So many pictures.

But my pictures can’t tell you of the smells, sounds and tastes that lingers in my mind.

I can hear the Cape Town flower sellers shouting funny lines to get you to buy their flowers. “Two Rand a bunch”. Or the ice-cream guy shouting, “A lolly to make you jolly, a sucker to make you wakker“. The languages going wild in Pink Market. And Spanish all around in Mexico. Not a word I understand. But it still sounds like music.

The taste of my first cheese fondue in Lausanne in Switzerland. Followed by horse steak as a main course. And chilli on everything in Mexico. And tequila to take your breath away. And having some more. My first good coffee ever in a little coffee shop in Brussels. And later having a Turkish coffee a few blocks away. And still trying to go to sleep more than ten years later.

The smell of the perfumery in Luxembourg. And dog poo in Paris. Fresh fish bought from the fisherman in Strand. Real butter on the farm in the Karoo. Manure on the farm… Afval and putu on a wonky table in Khayelitsha. Fresh baked roosterkoek on the fire at Ouma’s place.

They are all good. But my pictures don’t fade. They just get more colourful by the day. The shades of poverty around the corner disappears. The darkness of sick and hungry children fades way in the background. Every spot of bad memories grows fainter by the day. Only the colours of happiness and beauty remains. And become brighter by the day. That’s how I want my pictures to be. The good things of life and living etched in my mind. Smiling faces. Happy times.

I hope you have some pictures too.

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